EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Pasoans won’t see an increase in city taxes for Fiscal Year 2024 under the proposed budget and tax rate from the City.
That’s the message from El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser.
Leeser and Interim City Manager Cary Westin held a press conference Monday, Aug. 14, regarding the proposed “no new revenue tax rate” for the new City budget.
The El Paso City Council is set to adopt the budget and tax rate at Tuesday’s meeting.
“We continue to become fiscally responsible to the taxpayers. And we wanted to make sure that we didn’t cut any services. We still provided public safety. Our number one priority as elected officials is public safety,” Leeser said.
Leeser said it’s his goal to have no increase in taxes for El Pasoans next year as well.
“I’m looking forward to do doing that again next year and I know they cringe when I say that,” Leeser said, referring to Westin and Chief Financial Officer Robert Cortinas. “That’s our goal and we’re working for different avenues so we can do that moving forward.”
Cortinas says the last time there was no increase to the tax rate was in 2015.
While taxes won’t be increased, the City plans to increase the number of police officers and firefighters.
“This budget would give us a net increase of 53 police officers and a net increase of 25 firefighters. It means it maintains $10 million for street resurfacing projects. It adds an additional $6.4 million for a total of $14.4 million for city vehicles and heavy equipment replacement,” Westin, the interim city manager, said.
The question is: How is the city increasing wages and adding on more employees while not raising the tax rate?
The mayor and interim city manager said the city is using a $37 million budget surplus to pay off the entire remaining debt for Transportation Reinvestment Zone No. 2.
Cortinas, the chief financial officer, also says that will save the city $20 million in interest costs and provide $8 million of additional annual reoccurring revenue for the city’s General Fund.
“There were a couple of other strategies that we utilized. We’ve seen really strong sales tax growth continuing, which is one of our large revenue sources. It’s the second largest source of revenue for the city,” Cortinas said.
On Tuesday, August 15, the City Council is set to adopt the Fiscal Year 2024 budget and tax rate. The new fiscal year begins on Sept. 1.